Archive » September 23, 2010
THE TIME HAS COME TO SPEAK UP
By Larry R. Rankin, Guest Columnist
It would seem that the (Buellton) mayorís and most of Buellton City Councilís audacity has no bounds.
The city recently waived winter water fees to the Zaca Creek Golf Course, a private, for profit enterprise that benefits only those who play golf. At the same time, the mayor and City council now want a further rate increase of water and sewer to be levied against the remainder of Buellton residents.
This has the appearance of favoritism and strikes me as an irresponsible allocation of money. My objection to this sort of favoritism would always be true, but is even more so today with the current economic situation.
For those who did not know, City Hall entered into a Water Well Agreement with Four Oaks Partners stating that they will not pay for water during the winter months. The amount being waived is $2,500 per month. Four Oaks Partners are to use that money to upgrade the course. This agreement now lasts through 2011 as the CC last month forgave them another three months on top of that. This amounts to a whopping $37,500 of municipal money that the city will never see returned to them.
What a deal. I bet all businesses in Buellton would like that benefit. We as citizens of Buellton should all have that benefit, donít you think!?
The main problem I have with this is that the city has wasted our money by giving it to a special interest and at the same time it is proposing to raise our fees. It is not even maintaining its current infrastructure at acceptable standards, in my view. Does it seem right that the city is waiving fees for a select few while we pay their share also? Who asked us, the citizens of Buellton if we wanted this? We just went through a Visioning process and I never saw any representative of the Golf Course there. Where is the voice of reason down at City Hall?
Mayor Victoria Pointer and Ed Andresik just voted for that three-month extension to the golf course water waiver, Holly against and Dave King abstained from voting because he teaches kids at the golf course. Also Hicks excused himself because he lives in the Rancho de Maria housing tract and by law has to. The owner stated at the meeting that even if the city forgave the water bill, he probably will not be able to stay in business and they still voted to use community money in this way. If the water/sewer rates get accepted by the people, it will not be an addition to our bills until spring of next year, the earliest. My guess is they do not want this inequitable allocation to be known beforehand, because they are seeking re-election. I hope the citizens of Buellton realize we are being handed a rate increase on their water/sewer bill next year. I read about this in a local publication dated, Aug. 31. The only way an increase can be stopped is to have more than 50 percent of the utility customers write a letter to the city voting against the increase. The letter needs to go to the city manager, John Kunkel, protesting a water and sewer increase. Justice and fairness during this Great Recession and 10 percent unemployment should at least require that government take less, not more, as the rest of us try to get by on less.
I understand the city faces customer growth, and the cityís infrastructure is aging and must be replaced or repaired at some point. But not at this time, when I see they still have money to waste on special interests. Make your voice heard!
Larry R. Rankin is a resident of Buellton.